Welcome to BookView Interview, a conversation series where BookView talks to authors.
Recently, we interviewed author JB Blake, about his writing and his recently released, The Killer Half, a taut cat-and-mouse tale that keeps the action moving and readers on the edge of their seats. (Read the review here.)
JB Blake is a student of military history, behavioral science, servant leadership, critical thinking, innovation, and economics. With a background as a successful entrepreneur and intrapreneur, corporate executive, and university professor, every career path has led to interactions with fascinating characters whose traits could be woven into The Killer Half.
Your author bio states that each of your career paths have “led to interactions with fascinating characters whose traits could be woven into The Killer Half.” Can you tell us more about these people, and the real-life inspirations behind the characters in this novel?
In my corporate career I’ve worked with people whose backgrounds included those who were Chicago street-hustlers/degenerate gamblers, to the most senior executives in major corporations, and everyone in between. In my university teaching career, I’ve experienced students who were online poker players, those who were serious entrepreneurs, and combat vets with serious PTSD issues. In my time serving in a chamber of commerce, I’ve interacted with many politicians whose ethics ranged from honest to highly questionable. The funniest, most interesting people I’ve met are the Chicago street-hustlers/gamblers, and senior HR staff members in large corporations.
How did your experience studying military history and behavioral science influence the story of The Killer Half?
Studying military history gave me a realistic picture of combat, special forces, and some of the many pressures they must face. I have a degree in behavioral science. It helped me to understand the patterns of behavior when people receive specific forms of stimuli, how they deal with it, and what they do to combat the sometimes-negative effects of it.
Although The Killer Half is your debut novel, you have also written nonfiction books about business practices and strategies. What inspired your pivot to fiction writing, and did your previous writing experience translate into the process of writing a novel?
The business books were practice for writing the novel. They were also a release for me to speak up about certain business practices that are unfortunately common in the business world. I was inspired to write the novel after reading a magazine article about a “rape tree.” There was a picture of a tree with the undergarments of many women hanging on it. An ugly old table was positioned in front of it. The Coyotes (men who lead border crossers into the US) would select women from the company the men were leading, take them to the table, gang rape them, and hang the garments of the women on the tree as a symbol of conquest. I was outraged by this ugly behavior. I wondered what I would have done if I saw this occurring. This led to a series of dreams that happened every night for about two years. It became a story and I thought I should write it down before it vanished from my mind. When I began to type the story from my mind (nothing was written on paper) I had about two-thirds of what became the book.
What’s the most difficult thing about writing a novel?
In this case it was the constant re-reading for editing purposes and finding a publisher or agent. I believe many publishers and agents went out-of-business during COVID.
What’s the most gratifying thing about writing a novel?
Seeing something that I had dreamt into existence come to life.
What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
I’ve been learning that all my life. I’ve done a huge amount of public speaking and I had to learn to communicate in this way.
What authors do you like to read? What book or books have had a strong influence on you or your writing?
I have a huge library and I’ve read everything from classical literature to military history to the most up-to-date business and leadership ideas.
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